The mission of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults,” is fulfilled when the actions of our employees demonstrate our stated values. In doing so, they “make their mark” upon those we serve. In our continuing series, “Make your Mark,” we introduce you to PHS employees who are living out these values.
For 25 years, Lori Martin, an LPN at Harmony River in Hutchinson, MN, has made her mark with PHS. She exemplifies the PHS core value of Operational Integrity and what it means when PHS staff members say, “I am a guest in the homes of those I serve.” Her attitude of humility, compassion and curiosity toward residents with dementia is especially compelling to her colleagues.
June Knick, Clinical Coordinator, writes, “Lori’s knowledge of working with those with dementia is demonstrated by her ability to ‘go where they are’ seamlessly. This allows residents to maintain their dignity and comfort instead of feeling distressed.” Described as a “calming presence” by Pam Radunz, Resident Services Director, Lori is also said to “not judge any resident – she meets them where they are at – which lends to her gentle approach and success,” according to Pam Wolling, Clinical Administrator.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, which is advocating Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month in June, “50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.” Dementia is defined as “a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Lori’s approach reflects a foundational principle taught in the PHS signature DOVE training program, which states, “We believe persons with dementia are whole individuals with social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.” Such belief upholds our approach to care that truly sees the person, not the disease. Ben Ricker, Education and Training Specialist, says, “We train staff to get into the resident’s reality. For example, the PHS community is their home. It may seem strange to them for us to just walk in or even be in that area. They may not recognize us. So, it’s important to always introduce ourselves and remember how we would feel if a stranger showed up in our house all of a sudden.”
Lori is a natural at showing empathy. When asked about what inspires her, she answered that as a young person, she became a nursing assistant and cared for her grandmother who developed severe dementia. She says, “I just fell in love with it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Acknowledging that dementia runs in her family, Lori explains, “You put yourself in their shoes. If I develop dementia one day, I hope somebody cares for me who has kindness and understanding.”
We are grateful to Lori Martin for making her mark across 25 years with PHS. In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we also celebrate every employee and caregiver who is a healing presence for someone living with dementia.
Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at www.preshomes.org/careers.